Falling is not an inevitable part of aging, but statistics show that a quarter of American adults ages 65+ suffer a fall every year. The risk of a fall rises as the physiology of our bodies changes with age. Our muscle mass and flexibility decrease, our sense of balance isn’t as acute, and our vision isn’t as sharp as it once was. We also may be on medications making us more susceptible to a loss of balance leading to a fall.
How a Fall Impacts Senior Health and Wellness
One fall can alter your entire lifestyle, threatening your independence and overall health. Each year, 3 million seniors are treated for fall injuries. These falls often result in bone fractures of the hip, leg, ankle, pelvis, spine or arm. One in 5 falls causes serious injuries, such as a broken bone, concussion or brain injury.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falling once also doubles the chances of falling again. This is because after a person falls the first time, they often become fearful of falling again. They avoid movements that might put them at risk, but at the cost of exercises that help maintain their health, balance and mobility.
5 Fall Prevention Tips
While it’s impossible to prevent all accidents, here are five fall prevention tips for seniors to decrease their risk.
- Audit your home.
Over a third of adults ages 65+ suffer a fall at home. The most common causes are tripping or slipping on the floor. It’s important to assess stairways and hallways to make them safer, remove clutter and trailing wires from rooms, and minimize protruding furniture. Make sure rugs are secured by nonslip mats or double-sided tape, and ensure doorways and thresholds are well lit. Add safety modifications like installing sturdy railings and grab bars in the tub or shower.
- Maintain strength and balance.
Movements to improve balance and muscle tone should be part of a daily routine for preventing falls in seniors. To maintain bone density and overall strength, a program of weight training is a good idea. Additionally, consume foods rich in calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones strong, and stay hydrated by drinking 60 to 80 ounces of liquids a day. Be extra careful when feeling ill, as you may be weaker than normal or affected by medication you’re taking.
- Choose supportive footwear. A fall safety tip for seniors that’s often neglected is avoiding high-heeled or slippery shoes and floppy slippers, or walking around the house in stocking feet. Your shoes should have nonskid soles, fit well, and provide good support.
- Get your eyes checked.
Poor vision can cause you to miss a step or trip over something you didn’t see. Get your vision checked at least once a year and update your contact lenses or eyeglasses as needed. If you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, they can distort how close or far things really are. Consider getting a distance prescription for outdoor activities, even if you’re only walking.
- Check in regularly with your doctor.
Pay attention to any changes in your balance or vision and make an appointment with your doctor immediately if you notice any differences. Wellness checks at least once per year will help you stay on top of your health and reduce your risk of falling.
We Make Fall Prevention a Priority
Preventing falls in seniors is one of our top priorities. Residents at Heritage Senior Living communities have easy access to our multidisciplinary therapy teams, where certified physical therapists can perform a comprehensive fall risk screening. They develop customized programs to increase strength, coordination and balance, and address any post-hospital weakness or orthopedic conditions.
Learn how our innovative therapies can help decrease your risk of falling and improve your balance. Contact us today at 844-658-4475.